First, after a seemingly normal pre-game warmups, Sidney Crosby wouldn't touch the ice again. The Pens initially had Crosby in their lineup and extra forward Craig Adams scratched. They had to confer with the officials and reverse that, scratching Crosby literally at the last minute just before the faceoff and getting Adams back in. It wasn't a good trade-off.
To make matters even worse, early in the first period Evgeni Malkin took a seemingly normal, clean bump of a hit from Boston's Chris Kelly . Malkin went down like a ton of bricks and stayed motionless on his hands and knees for a while, skating off slowly and appearing to not put much weight on his right leg. Malkin would come back for a few shifts in the first period, but he didn't look himself and he wouldn't return after the first intermission.
From there, the game almost seemed to take secondary status to the sudden and unexpected departures of the team's best players. Pittsburgh actually came out respectably- out-shooting Boston 7-1 at one point early in the game. However, it would be the Bruins who scored the game's first goal later in the first when the puck bounced over to Milan Lucic who snapped a shot by Rob Scuderi and goalie Thomas Greiss to make it 1-0.
And 1-0 it would stay for pretty much the rest of the game. The Pens pushed hard, played a physical and effective game. They kept the shots even, which considering their best 2 players went down and lines were scrambled, is no small achievement. As seemingly usual against the Pens, Tuukka Rask had all the answers. And when he didn't, the posts were there to bail him out, notably a huge shot and chance for Nick Spaling in the second period.
Zdeno Chara would score an empty netter to seal the deal, a valiant effort for the Pens with nothing to show. Hopefully now some good news will come for their top players.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- Hits were 55-35 Pens. That's a liiitle bit generous, but not by a lot. Very physical game all around and the Pens weren't passing up any chances to put a Bruin on his backside when the chance was there.
- Kris Letang with 6 shot attempts, but only 1 on goal (with 4 blocked, and 1 missing target). The Pens could have used a little more effective offense out of probably their most talented player.
- Daniel Winnik , thrust into a center role for the first time at a Penguin at literally the last minute, only wen 1 for 9 in the circle. Overall Boston crushed the Pens in faceoffs, 37-27.
- Power play went 0 for 4, which isn't much new even if everyone was healthy. With 2 huge last minute losses, it's not unsurprising the Pens didn't come through. But in what was 1-0 game, it's still a disappointment and lost opportunity to get a goal.
- The penalty kill was solid at 3 for 3 though, at least holding the Pens even at special teams. They wouldn't have been in a position to even tie the game if they lost that battle, so it was good that they didn't.
- Greiss with one of his better and most complete games of the season. 28 of 29 with a good effort. On the goal that eluded him, Scuderi didn't do any favors, turning his body away from blocking the shot, presumably so Greiss could pick it up sooner and be able to get a clean chance at a save, but it didn't work out that way. Can't complain too much on any party.
- Derrick Pouliot earned a seat in the press box for his casual play last game that cost the Pens a couple of goals. Hopefully the team goes right back to him for tomorrow. If they have any aspirations of playing him in the NHL post-season this year, he's gotta be able to have enough leash to play through mistakes. Still, his mistakes last game were numerous and costly, so it's tough to argue against a benching.
The Pens have a quick turnaround to meet Detroit at home tomorrow. Hopefully we get some good news on 87 or 71, or else the team is going to have a difficult time of scoring goals. But at least they have a day now to prep for knowing that the big guns will be out of the lineup, if that is what it ends up coming to.